by Susan Elliott
Mezzo-soprano Jamie Barton has added the 2015 Richard Tucker Award to her trophy case, a $50,000 prize granted annually to an American singer “on the threshold of a major international career.”
Actually, Barton, 33, is already well on her way, having been named the 2013 BBC Cardiff Singer of the World and granted the mantle of “fresh wonder of the opera world” by the ever-influential New Yorker.
She is also a winner of the 2007 Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions and the Kennedy Center’s 2014 Marian Anderson Award.
The Tucker prize is decided upon by a panel of insiders; the Tucker Foundation, named for the late, great Brooklyn-born tenor, has on its executive committee Sherrill Milnes and Samuel Ramey, and its board of artist advisors bears names like Domingo, Terfel, Levin, and Horne.
Barton has come up through the American opera-training-program ranks. A native of Rome, GA, with a masters in voice performance from the Jacobs School of Music at Indiana University, she was a Tanglewood Fellow and made her professional debut in 2007 with the Opera Theatre of Saint Louis, moving on a year later to the Aspen Music Festival (the witch in Hansel and Gretel), then to the Houston Grand Opera Studio, of which she is a graduate, and the Houston Grand Opera. She made her Met Opera debut in the 2009/2010 season as the Second Lady in The Magic Flute. Since then, major roles with the Lyric Opera of Chicago, San Francisco Opera, Bavarian State Opera, and others of similar rank have followed.
“I don’t think I’ve ever been as speechless as I was when Barry Tucker called me to give me the news that I’d won the Richard Tucker Award,” said Barton in her comments. “The Tucker Foundation has been a musical family for me for years now, and to be given its top prize is an absolute honor.”
Previous Tucker Award winners include Lawrence Brownlee, Stephanie Blythe, David Daniels, Angela Meade, and Joyce DiDonato. Tenor Michael Fabiano won last year.